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Agent concerned Burnett made costly mistake

MIAMI -- Florida Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett apologized
Tuesday for the comments that led to his banishment, and with free
agency looming, his agent conceded the episode could be costly.

Manager Jack McKeon told Burnett 30 minutes before Monday's game
to leave. The right-hander will continue to be paid but won't be
with the Marlins the final week of the season.

The move came after Burnett lost his sixth decision in a row
Sunday, then said the Marlins play scared because McKeon and his
staff are too negative.

"I have always been a very passionate player and person,"
Burnett said in a statement Tuesday released by agent Darek
Braunecker. "I often wear my emotions on my sleeve, sometimes for
better, sometimes for worse. I hope that my teammates always
respect that of me, as I trust they know my commitment to winning.

"For those I've offended, I offer my most sincere apologies."

Burnett's contract expires this week, and general manager Larry
Beinfest said the Marlins won't attempt to re-sign him. That was
unlikely to happen anyway, given Florida's financial constraints
and the market for Burnett.

He might be the top pitcher available -- or perhaps not, given
his recent losing streak and outburst.

"He made a decision that's probably a bad decision, and he's
feeling the repercussions of making the statement when he did,"
Braunecker said.

"I'm not naive that the statement or his performance in the
past 30 days aren't going to be an issue. He's going to have to
answer those questions face to face with his potential suitors.
We'll be prepared to address it, and it'll all work out."

The 28-year-old Burnett has long been regarded as an
underachiever. He won seven consecutive starts in July and August
but pitched poorly during the heat of the playoff race and finished
12-12 with a 3.44 ERA. His most recent win came Aug. 19.

He missed almost all of the 2003 season after reconstructive
elbow surgery, and his career record is a modest 49-50, all with
Florida. But he's one of the few pitchers with a 98-mph fastball
and a no-hitter on his résumé.

"You just hope in the next situation, there's a better working
relationship," Braunecker said.

Burnett chafed all season at McKeon's gruff personality and
conservative game strategy, but waited until the Marlins were
virtually eliminated from playoff contention to sound off.

"It's easy to say stuff like that when there's only a week to
go in the season," teammate Todd Jones said. "A.J.'s a free
spirit. He's got to live with his comments."

Burnett was acquired by the Marlins in 1998 and made his major
league debut the following season.

"He was here for so long, it's a shame this is how it has to
end," teammate Josh Beckett said. "Obviously something was really
bugging him."

Rookie Josh Johnson, a candidate for the 2006 rotation, will
take Burnett's turn Friday against Atlanta. Johnson threw four
shutout innings against Saturday against the Braves.